Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ by Dan Christina
Mulching is the practice of covering bare soil with some sort of substance in order to conserve moisture, reduce or eliminate weed growth, and provide an aesthetically pleasing look to an area. That’s my definition at least. No where are weeds more apparent and frustrating than in a vegetable garden where they don’t hide under perennials or get outshined by annuals. Nope, when your vegetable beds are full of weeds, it’s obvious, especially in those areas that remain unplanted until late spring. In larger scale production gardens, often beds will be tilled right before planting, turning weed growth back into the soil and providing a clean top layer for planting. As I have been trying to move away from late tilling and I dislike unnecessary weeding, I decided for the areas that are planted (nearly) last, I would try a fabric mulch this year.
I installed 4oz non-woven landscape fabric, and am not entirely sure what the fabric is but it feels similar to felt and isn’t plasticized. Highly permeable to water, it also helps absorb heat and so far has kept 99.9% of weeds out. It was very easy to roll out, and using 6″ anchor pins every 4-5 feet, was easy to keep taut.
These pictures are from mid-May and while other areas have started to weed-up, these beds will be happy to fill up with Squash, Cucumbers and Melons. I will also be using wood chips for main paths, salt marsh hay among the peppers and tomatoes, and I’ve been thinking about trying out shale as well.
Have you tried fabric cover before? Any favorite mulches? How are your gardens at home?